Wouldn’t it be nice if you were one of the few that have a flawless, linear professional development without any significant employment gaps? Just imagine how much easier it would be to get that interview for that dream job. Your phone rings the very afternoon you submitted your resume – an out of breath hiring manager wants to see if you are still interested or if you already signed on with the competition.
Too good to be true if you have employment gaps in your professional vitae, right?
Not necessarily. I will not sugarcoat it; apparently employment gaps are not going to make your job hunt easier. But, and here is the good news: you can still compete with the folks with that flawless and linear professional development. Due to globally competing economies, and also particularly due to the big crisis a few years ago, having employment gaps is becoming more and more the “new normal.” So, far so good, but how do you to present yourself in the best possible light?
Chronological Vs. Functional Resume
The two major types of resume formats are the chronological and the functional resume. The chronological resume is the “traditional” kind of resume where you list your work experience with dates after your summary and key skills section in a reversed chronological order. Now let’s assume you were out of work for four years when raising your children, then you had a job for two years followed by a term of unemployment of 1.5 years. In this case, the chronological resume will more or less “highlight” your periods without a job. In a stellar resume, however, you only want to highlight your pros for a specific position.
That’s why there is a resume format called functional resume. Here you “extract” your major skills and achievements from your work experience and highlight these in a special section before your actual work experience, which will subsequently be much shorter compared to a chronological style resume (which draws less attention to your employment gaps, and/or convinces the employer of your unique qualifications so that he does not mind the gaps). So, problem solved? No, not really.
The Problems With Functional Resumes
There are two major problems with a functional resume:
1) Potential employers and recruiters are well aware that functional resumes are used to “conceal” and de-emphasize employment gaps. The “trick” might thus backfire on you.
2) There are Applicant Tracking Systems (computer software that filters resumes when submitted via online-application processes) that don’t really appreciate the functional resume format and you might thus end-up with an undesirable Applicant Tracking ranking.
To optimize your chances you will simply have to come-up with a hybrid version of a chronological and a functional resume. Extract highlights and core values from your work experiences into a special section, yet deliver a more than rudimentary work history then you would in a functional resume. You are still “exposing” your employment gaps this way, but you get at least a shot to convince the potential employer with a stunning “Key Accomplishment Section,” which can increase your chances significantly.
Always remember: Employment gaps are rapidly becoming the new normal.
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